WASHINGTON, May 16, 2023 – Sector specific agencies, federal departments responsible for infrastructure protection activities in a designated critical infrastructure sector, are prepared to address cybersecurity concerns across various industries, said witnesses at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Malicious actors are targeting U.S. infrastructure, said witnesses. In 2021, President Biden signed an executive order on improving American cybersecurity capabilities following the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and SolarWinds breach in 2020.
In March, two bills were introduced by Senators Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., to establish pilot programs in the Department of Defense and Homeland Security that would hire civilian cybersecurity personnel in reserve.
The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response addresses increasingly sophisticated and frequent attacks on hospital and public health centers by providing each hospital with personalized and specific instruction on mitigation and disaster response best practices.
Cyberattacks on hospitals have a negative effect on the surrounding area similar to that of a natural disaster, claimed Brain Mazanec, deputy director of the Office of Preparedness at ASPR. There have been more than double cyber-attacks on hospitals from 2016 to 2021, he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for addressing water system cyberattacks, said David Travers, director of Water Infrastructure and Cyber Resilience Division at EPA. The EPA’s Evaluating Cybersecurity guidance is intended to assist states with building their own secure systems for water and sewer systems.
It is essential that sector specific agencies develop strong relationships with sectors under their jurisdiction well before disastrous incidents occur, said Puesh Kumar, director of the office of cybersecurity at the Energy Security and Emergency Response at the Department of Energy.
The Energy and Commerce Committee also participated in a markup of the Energy Emergency Leadership Act Tuesday which would amend the Department of Energy Organization Act to elevate the leadership of the DOE’s emergency response and cybersecurity functions.
“Establishing assistant-secretary leadership at the department will reflect the importance of managing this threat,” said Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan.
The Act passed on unanimous vote to report to the full committee without amendment.
Duncan also emphasized the importance of a strong domestic supply chain, calling for a “‘Made in America’ system for nuclear fuel” in order to “give the domestic industry the market certainty they need to invest and build out the necessary infrastructure.”
On June 27, Broadband Breakfast’s Made in America Summit will examine energy infrastructure and international supply chain issues in depth.